Benches clear at Dodgers-Padres
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Los Angeles Dodgers were involved in their second bench-clearing incident this spring on Saturday, this time against a National League West rival they will see 18 times over the next six months.
The Dodgers' 5-4 Cactus League victory over the San Diego Padres turned momentarily ugly in the bottom of the fifth inning, when Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton hit Padres left fielder Ryan Ludwick in the foot with the second pitch he threw after entering the game.
Although it was fairly apparent that Broxton didn't hit Ludwick intentionally, the Padres took exception because Broxton also had hit their shortstop, Orlando Cabrera, in the back with a pitch on March 10 at Camelback Ranch, in the midst of a four-run implosion by Broxton in which he lasted just one-third of an inning. So when shortstop Rafael Furcal became the first Dodgers regular to come to the plate in the top of the sixth, following utility infielder Jamey Carroll and non-roster outfielder Gabe Kapler, Padres pitcher Brad Brach hit Furcal in the right hip.
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Furcal simply took his base without incident. But moments later, after Padres catcher Nick Hundley threw out Furcal trying to steal second to end the inning, Dodgers catcher Rod Barajas took exception to what he felt was an over-the-top show of emotion by Hundley. Barajas then came out of the Dodgers dugout and onto the field and began yelling across at Hundley as he headed to the Padres dugout.
Barajas said Hundley had made a hand gesture, which Barajas described as a wave, then glared at the Dodgers dugout and said something Barajas couldn't make out before turning to leave the field.
"He made a great throw," Barajas later said. "But I take offense when a guy looks at my dugout and starts talking in that direction. Hey, he did his job, great. Be happy with it. But this isn't basketball or football where you talk trash. In this game, you don't do that."
As luck would have it, Ludwick was the last Padres player off the field, and he stopped before entering the Padres dugout on the first-base side and began to engage Barajas. That caused Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier, who had been on deck when the inning ended and still had a bat in his hand, to come back out of the dugout and yell across at Ludwick.
It was at this point that both benches and bullpens emptied. But order was quickly restored, and no punches were thrown.
"I wouldn't call it a ruckus," Ludwick said, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. "No one threw any haymakers. I kind of got caught in no-man's land."
As both teams headed back to their corners, there was a brief verbal exchange behind home plate between Dodgers manager Don Mattingly and Padres manager Bud Black.
"I told him Brox wasn't trying to hit him there, to hit Ludwick," Mattingly said. "I guess Brox had hit Cabrera over at our place a while back, and so [Black] said 'He didn't mean to hit Cabrera, either.' I don't think he meant to hit either guy."
Mattingly said that after Black spoke his piece, he told Mattingly the whole thing was over, and Barajas echoed that after the game despite the fact the two teams will see each other so often this season, beginning on April 8 at Petco Park.
"It's no big deal for me," Barajas said. "It's just the way [Hundley] went about it, I took exception to it. But he isn't a marked man or anything. I don't hold any grudges, and I don't see it being an issue."
Benches also cleared briefly during the Dodgers' game with the Milwaukee Brewers on March 8 when Dodgers non-roster pitcher Roman Colon celebrated after striking out Casey McGehee with the bases loaded in the sixth inning and exchanged words with McGehee on the way off the field. That prompted Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder to charge out of the dugout toward Colon. Fielder was restrained, and again, no punches were thrown, and Colon and McGehee shook hands near the clubhouses after leaving that game.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.